Two Upcoming Events

Haymarket Martyrs’ monument, the old Waldheim Cemetery. Photo by Roman.

May Day, the international Labor Day, is very much my holiday. Here are two upcoming events for those of you in the Chicago area. I would be very inclined to do both if I had my way. I would then also say: “See you there!” But alas I am a geezerly male and so that makes making such commitments a chancy thing. Maybe, then.

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Chicago’s Haymarket Free Speech memorial. Photo by Roman.

Haymarket Square May Day Commemoration

Sunday, May 1, 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
DesPlaines St between Randolph and Lake, Chicago

“Italian unionists from the Federation of Metallurgical and Office Workers (FiOM) will join the ILHS at 12:30 p.m. on May Day, Sunday, May 1, to unveil their commemorative plaque on the Haymarket’s Square statue’s base. The base features plaques from labor movements around the globe, marking May 1 as International Workers’ Day.”

For more information, visit the Illinois Labor History Society’s calendar entry.

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DSAer Dave Rathke tends to the Mother Jones balloon. Photo by Roman.

Mother Jones’ Birthday Party

Sunday, May 1, 4 PM to 6 PM
Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox, Chicago

Guest will include Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson, Irish General Consul Kevin Byrne, artist Lindsay Hand, musicians Paddy Homan, Kathy Cowen and the SAG-AFTRA singers, with emcee Chicago Federation of Labor Secretary-Treasurer Don Villar.

Admission is free but RSVP please at the Mother Jones Museum calendar where there is also more information.

“Zeppelins”

April is National Poetry Month, and for the occasion Frank Hudson’s Parlando Project has been producing a series of “Lyric Videos” based on audio recordings of the poems done previously. The month is not even half over, but (so far) Hudson’s performance of “Zeppelins” by F.S. Flint is my favorite, though “Dunbar” is not far behind.

And of course, the poem is also so very appropriate to what is once again happening in Europe these days, not to mention elsewhere in the world none of which I’m not going to mention as I’m sure to shamefully leave somewhere or two off the list…

The term “lyric video” is also new to me though the practice is… not new. As a concept, though, it wraps up and gathers together poetry as oral interpretation and poetry as literature. As a bonus, one can throw in ancillary aspects like music, musicality, concrete poetry just to name-drop a few. Is pretty cool concept, methinks.

Pity Ukraine:

So close to Russia… So far from God…

Pity may rank near the bottom of what Ukrainians need right now, but savvy readers might notice the above is derived from what Mexicans have been saying about Mexico and the United States. Some will be offended because the same savvy readers, being hip to the ways of polemics, will anticipate a tantrum of what-about-isms, so let’s get that out of the way: Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico… I could toss in Hawaii and more, but you should have gotten the idea. If not, you have homework to do. Some might say these offenses are ancient history… Surely there is a statute of limitations that has passed? Well then, need I mention “weapons of mass destruction” and two recent U.S. Presidents, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, who had no respect whatsoever for international institutions unless occasionally as a fig leaf to be discarded when convenient.

I do not present these as a means of deflecting or obfuscating: Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is wrong. And it is dangerous, at one extreme leading to World War III and at another extreme leading to the break-up of Russia and at another extreme an endless parade of resource wars and accelerating arms races, including nuclear weapons for all. But our own sins are worth remembering because beyond individual behavior, moral arguments are mostly just useful to entertain those who need to pass judgements, and maybe for morale and winning elections.

Sanctions will not save Ukraine and any meaningful outside intervention runs a very real risk of a wider war — though if the Russian military is stalemated for a while, the threat of such intervention might inspire diplomacy… maybe. I don’t know. Wishful thinking, perhaps.

(Belarus is already more or less a part of Russia through its 2000 “Union State” treaty with Russia. Lukashenko, however, had best watch his back as those Russian troops are likely to remain in Belarus for As Long As Necessary. Now smile!)

What I do know is that here in the States, the political left is screwed. Again. Just as after the 9/11 attack, there will be money for weapons and fear will veto much of anything else, not to mention the unfortunate tendency among some parts of the left to imagine imperialism to be a behavior manifest exclusively by United States. Ideologues know how to win arguments but not much else.

I really don’t want to get back to doing political activism. Would you care to do it for me? Please?

“Railroad Workers Barred from Striking”

While I still keep a wary eye on politics (broadly defined, not just elections), most of it just doesn’t seem that interesting (outside of immediate hazards) these days.*

But in this case, the story below had popped up on one or more of the news lists I follow out of a lifelong interest in trainspotting. Those accounts were rather sparse on the details. The account below, from the More Perfect Union YouTube channel, provides rather more detail…

…with maybe the “draconian” dial turned up a notch or so. Not that I’m complaining. The More Perfect Union website is worth a visit.


*Oh, yes: it is most certainly me and not politics that has changed. But since I’ve “retired” from activism, the details have changed enough that they begin to obscure rather than to inform.

Sidney Poitier: Nobody You Can Boss Around

Sidney Poitier: a class act…

Working-Class Perspectives

In the 10 days since we learned of Sidney Poitier’s death there have been hundreds of tributes to Poitier—an undeniable icon. Most of these tributes have focused on Poitier’s brilliant acting, for which he received innumerable awards, as well as his advocacy for Civil Rights. As CNN notes, for example, in 1963 Poitier joined Harry Belafonte on a dangerous mission to fund Civil Rights work in Mississippi.

Many tributes also acknowledge Poitier’s humble beginnings. The youngest of seven, Poitier grew up in the Bahamas, without electricity and running water. His parents were tomato farmers who traveled to Miami by boat in order to sell their produce. On one of those trips, Poitier’s mother was pregnant with him and gave birth while on the job in Miami, making him a US citizen.

In 1937, when Poitier was 15 years old, his parents sent him to the United States to live…

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“Fifty Lost Earths”

I visit Professor David Kipping’s Cool Worlds Lab YouTube channel regularly, despite the clouds of commercials that swarm like mosquitoes or maybe midges. The channel satisfies a slightly geeky fascination with exoplanet research.

This particular video is a retrospective on the data returned by the Kepler space telescope. It’s political in the sense that what Kepler has found, or hasn’t found, has implications for the design of any follow-on missions, one of which is already in the planning stages.

“Twelve years ago, NASA predicted around 50 Earth-like planets would be discovered by the Kepler telescope. And yet, we’re left essentially none. What happened? Why did those predictions not match reality? And what can we learn from these 50 lost dreams…”

Written & presented by Prof David Kipping

“Hand in Hand”

“Only a formal handshake separates two politicians from a sealed contract. But as both stubbornly try to gain the upper hand within the gesture, their grim intransigence takes on a monstrous life of its own.”

The above from the Swiss Das alte Lager Vimeo channel. It was written and directed by Ennio Ruschetti while at the Zurich University of Arts.

I’m especially fond of this brief video as it is a surreal and succinct and funny performance of what I call “pecking order politics”. It’s a label that tends to trivialize something that is present in all human society and every bit as powerful as more emergent characteristics like class, ethnicity, etc. Though we don’t everywhere deal with it the same way… There are situational “pecking orders” for example… But I won’t go on about it; boring! and my ideas about it probably only half baked. Check out the video instead; it’s a trip.

The Internet Is Dead

the first one is always free

I ran across the Masyanya Kuvaeva YouTube channel through The Russian Reader blog, a site of interest, political or cultural, to anyone interested in whatever is going down in Eurasia. In fact, it’s interesting even if you’re not much interested in whatever…

The CC should have an English translation for this episode; other episodes, you’ll rely on Google.

Everything is Green Now

In case you’ve missed this…

Anthracite Unite

by Mitch Troutman

It’s happening again. A few months ago, Talon Energy announced it is building a bitcoin mining facility onto the Berwick nuclear power plant. Now, a bitcoin mining company has bought the coal-fired power plant in Nesquehoning, outside Jim Thorpe.

I knew this was happening in poorer countries and ignorantly assumed it wouldn’t happen here. Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) is anonymous, ultra-secure digital money that was intended to subvert government-controlled currencies like the dollar. Instead, it has become a high-stakes gambling market. Crypto’s backbone is a world-wide network of computers used to solve purposely-complex equations, called “mining”. Baked into its DNA is that every new transaction requires more computer power than the one before it. As of July, a single bitcoin transaction required enough electricity to power the average home for 2 months. These transactions happen 240,000 time every day.

The margins on bitcoin “mining” are…

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